Webb on the Web: track online news articles over time with NewsDiffs
During the recent Knight Mozilla MIT hackathon, my very good friend Jenny 8. Lee and her team built a great tool that shows how news stories posted online often change multiple times, even through it's not necessarily clear that edits have been made to a story. Changes might be minor, such as correcting "over" to "more than." Or they could result from breaking news updates.
But sometimes, changes are significant, and without explicitly showing what's been altered in a story, news organizations have come under fire for not disclosing what's changed.
In fact, this story about whether Hosni Mubarak had died caught the New York Times in the middle of debate after this image went viral. At first, he was reported to be "clinically dead," and then the Times later corrected the story to say that he'd suffered a stroke. Compare the versions yourself here.
NewsDiffs is an innovative tool that shows these, and other changes. Here's an example from the NYT showing this correction: "Singapore’s single-party rule" ==> "Singapore’s single-party dominance." And here's another story where the NYT made this correction: "An earlier version of this article incorrectly referred to the Propaganda Ministry of the Communist Party. While there is a propaganda department under the Communist Party Central Committee, there is no government ministry by that name."
In an era where publishing has become instantaneous, but most people may only read an article once, NewsDiffs has become an important tool to help consumers, journalists and others track meaningful changes in reported stories.
Amy Webb is the CEO of Webbmedia Group, an international digital strategy agency that studies disruptive technologies and advises a worldwide client base of Fortune 100 and Global 1000 companies, government agencies, media organizations and foundations. She's the co-founder of SparkCamp and an active startup investor and advisor. Her new book, "Data: A Love Story" will be published by Penguin and available everywhere January 31. Any opinions expressed about products or services are formed after testing, research and interviews. Neither Amy Webb nor Webbmedia Group or its employees receives any financial or other benefits from vendors.
Image CC-licensed, thanks to Zeno_ on Flickr.